In 1980, Barry White boldly announced to the world, “There’s no better music than love makin’ music,” in his distinctive bass-baritone voice. The song, “Love Makin’ Music”, peaked only at #25 at the US R&B charts in that year, yet its message remains to be an enduring testament to this day.
In 2013, a decade after White’s death, years after R&B groups (the Jodeci’s, IMx’s, and the Next’s of the world) reached saturation point; and the music of R. Kelly, Usher, Keith Sweat, Ginuwine, Babyface, and their ilk, who made hip-swinging and gyrating pass of as a romantic gesture, has weaned off; came the likes of Miguel and The Weeknd, who have scratched and dug deep into the surface of narcotic R&B and treaded on the dangerous thrills of “love-making,” only now, it’s simply referred to as “fucking.”
And there was a premise to substantiate what Barry White sang more than 20 years ago, a daring promise that went like this: “Your pleasure is my mission,” a half-croon in the first few lines of “Smilky,” a song that bluntly spewed lines like, “You’re all I wanna do,” when two decades ago, it was only subtly suggested by White as, “Just feel our bodies blend.”
Things have obviously changed.
The band, SUD, categorizes their music as alternative soul, which, for most, is merely a euphemism for “baby-making music,” which is not exactly the case, not to mention, carelessly limiting. Currently composed of Sud Ballecer (vocals, guitars), Sammy Valenia (guitars), Marc Reyes (bass), Kohl Aguilar (keys), Carlos Dela Fuente (saxophone), Jimbo Cuenco (drums), and Carlo Maraingan (percussions), their instruments, in theory, are capable of expanding their sonic landscape from good, old-fashioned R&B to as far as funk, dabs of jazz, and even fusion. But SUD seems disinterested in guessing games, and not just when it comes to what kind of music they play, but what it’s all about, and to some extent – for whom.
Three years is too long a foreplay, with endless teasing in “Smilky,” “Make U Say,” (with references to asses and getting high – presumably not pharmacologically-induced, but metaphorically, i.e., during climax), and even the loosely sexual “Safer” (which I can poorly describe as: from a slow burner to fireworks – the drums went wild the fuck out towards the end) – which capitalized on building tension: basically a prelude to sex.
But in the overall scheme of things, this is why SUD isn’t exactly about the baby-making music business. This is not about moral turpitude (give me a break), but simply a fact. R. Kelly built an empire out of singing about bumping and grinding and “sex(ing),” and no one has hosed him with holy water yet. There is no full commitment to that in SUD’s part. Because sex doesn’t – and will never – monopolize the masses. There’s an equal, if not larger, commodity to that: love. There remains an affectionate emotion that gives SUD romantic sensibilities and amorous passion. A song that, no matter how admittedly cheesy this description may sound, gives them heart. “Sila” is an earnestly written, age-old, ‘you and me against the world’ ode that works cleverly because of its straightforward simplicity. This song alone casts a long shadow among its peers; that despite all the carnal pleasures and worldly gratifications SUD try their damnedest to provide, their music appeals primarily to feelings, and senses are merely secondary. The sensual indulgence palpable in their music serves as either precursors or byproducts, but never as the be-all and end-all. Simply put: it’s not black-and-white lust. Sorry to say, they’re not your guys for that (though this is relatively debatable). That’s what R. Kelly’s for.
At their most erotic form, SUD manufactures “panty-dropper moments” with wordplay and well-timed sax solos. In their songs, “fuck” functions both as an expletive and obscenity. They provide a somewhat liberating, enthralling space where sex is not taboo, not hushed, but is actually the basis, the point of discussion.
Sex as a form of poetry isn’t new, and it’s been peddled in many tacky, tasteless ways that it loses what meaning it has – romantic, passionate, or just a combustion of hormones at play. In fact, there is no life-and-death need to force it in the art of music. However, dynamics plays a crucial part in SUD’s music. Lose it, and they’re a relatively decent-sounding, ostentatiously numbered band. Force it, and they’re just ridiculously pretentious creeps who wanted to be Casanovas with microphones. Thing is, with sex, you need an insanely good combination of instinct and rhythm. And these guys happened to be in band who zero in on that.
SUD will be releasing their debut album, SKIN, on January 30, 2016, at Route 196, Katipunan Ext., Quezon City. It will be a joint release with spoken word group, Words Anonymous.